430 Squadron History Overview

From 430 Squadron Public Affairs

With the 75th anniversary of the establishment of 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron approaching in 2018, squadron members are looking into its rich history and learning about the many accomplishments of 430 members who came before.

On January 17, 2016, 20 members of the squadron, including commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Carol Potvin and squadron CWO Chief Warrant Officer Michel Trudel, boarded three CH-146 Griffon helicopters and left Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, Quebec, for Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ontario. There, they met with Honorary Lieutenant-General Richard Rohmer, who was a member of the original 430 Squadron during the Second World War.  

  General Rohmer was originally a member of 400 Squadron
The next morning, they reunited at the base officers’ mess for a formal presentation by Lieutenant-General Rohmer. In preparation for this meeting, some squadron members had researched 430's history and so were aware that the squadron had been established on January 1, 1943, in England as a reconnaissance unit flying the P-40 Kittyhawk fighter. The squadron’s establishment was a direct result of Article XV of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan under which Canada trained more than 131,000 Canadian and Allied airmen to fight in the Second World War.

The general’s presentation began with his joining the squadron, in September 1943, by which time the unit had switched to the P-51 Mustang aircraft. Displaying an excellent sense of humour and an amazing memory of events more than 70 years in the past, Lieutenant-General Rohmer entertained squadron members with his reminiscences of the Second World War.

Just 19 when he arrived at 430 Squadron, he was at first considered too young to fly operational missions. But he soon got into action, and flew more than 135 operational missions over France, Belgium and the Netherlands, including reconnaissance for the British Army, reconnaissance for aerial interdiction missions, and directing and controlling artillery fire. By that stage of the war, allied air superiority was such that enemy fighters were not of great concern. Still, on each mission, Lieutenant-General Rohmer faced the constant menace of accurate and deadly German flak.

Some of the highlights he mentioned were his colourful meeting with U.S. General George S. Patton, and his role in catching German General Erwin Rommel, the “Desert Fox”.

Lieutenant-General Rohmer also flew reconnaissance missions over Juno beach on D-Day, the morning of June 6, 1944, when the 3rd Canadian Division landed; he was over the beaches at H-Hour as the wingman of Flying Officer Jack Taylor. Later in the war, he assisted in knocking out V-1 flying bomb sites, and directed the fire of a super-heavy artillery gun to destroy a key bridge in Venlo, Holland, during Operation Market Garden.

And even with all those missions, Lieutenant-General Rohmer and his colleagues found time for fun; he elicited a great deal of laughter from his audience with a humorous retelling of a particular night spent in London with fellow pilots, revealing that some things haven’t changed over 430 Squadron’s 75 years.

Everyone present was honoured to have been able to meet such an interesting figure from 430 Squadron’s proud history, and a legend of the Royal Canadian Air Force.